Marriage, and the way it's viewed, is complicated. Some people think the answer to life lies in finding "the one." Others think nuptials are OK, but clearly over-hyped. Then, of course, there are those who stay clear of marriage altogether. Personally, I think marriage can be a great thing. Weddings are fun and, because of the way our society is designed, having a document binding you to another person can be beneficial in life-altering, financial, legal, and medical situations. That said, I know there are plenty of reasons people need to stop romanticizing marriage.
I’ll start off by letting you all know that I’m married. In fact, I’ve been married for about half a decade now. I never thought I would get married, though. It wasn't a life choice I've always wanted to make, and I didn't dream of some picturesque wedding the way I know some men and women do. However, I fell in love, one thing led to another, and I before I knew it my boyfriend asked and I said yes. So now we have a piece of paper that has our names on it and says we’re legal partners in the world.
Honestly, though, I don’t think about it much. I love my spouse and all, but I don’t feel like we honestly had to get married to achieve some, like, next-level relationship goal or prove love or somehow legitimize our relationship. I don’t think that it solidified or enhanced anything. Because we only had a small civil ceremony, I don’t actually have that attachment to some big party I threw with a white (or not) dress and an open bar (though we might still do it in the future because always yes to an open bar). So if you think marriage is this huge, amazing, perfect thing, I’m about to tone it down a notch or two, just for you.
Because Marriage Is An Antiquated Ritual Entrenched In Patriarchy
This may come as a shock to you (though it shouldn’t), but marriage is basically a tool of the patriarchy. If you know anything about the history of marriage, you might know that women used to basically give up what little rights they had in the name of marriage, handing their freedoms over to their husbands ("freedoms" that were previously managed by their fathers). A father would be tasked with finding their daughter (or daughters) a “suitable suitor," and that still happens in certain parts of the world today.
Then, of course, there's the whole part about dowries, turning women into nothing more than commodities that can be bought and sold. There's also the white dress to consider, a sign of a woman's "purity," because woman who had sex outside of marriage was "unclean." Yeah, none of that, in my opinion, is worth celebrating.
Because The Process Can Be A Bit Tedious
If you’re just going for the civil ceremony, it’s not so bad. You show up and fill out paperwork, wait in line, then go repeat some stuff, kiss, and it’s over. If you want to change your name, though, that’s kind of a pain in the ass.
If you’re opting for a big wedding reception, that’s a whole lot of unpaid labor. I know, I know. I’m so romantic.
Because Being Married Doesn't Validate Your Relationship
Who came up with this crap? OK, so prior to my marriage, I was in another long-term relationship (for four years). Up to then, it had been my longest relationship to date, and it was a completely valid, long-term, committed, and fulfilling relationship (well, at least until it wasn’t).
Unfortunately, because we weren't married we couldn’t do things like sign-up for one another’s health insurance plans. Even though that relationship was just important to me then as my marriage is now, I didn't have the rights I do now, as someone's wife. Ugh.
Because It Can, Honestly, Put You At A Financial Risk
While the divorce rate is at about 3.6 per 1,000 (certainly not the 50/50 that some folks claim it to be), that doesn’t mean you, yourself, will stay married. Divorce happens, and when it does, it’s way messier than a regular, outside-the-law break-up.
A divorce involves paperwork and lawyers and maybe mediators and judges and definitely more paperwork. It involves splitting up assets and potentially retirement funds and maybe you'll keep your house, but maybe you won't. In other words, marriage is OK, but divorce sucks. In the end, the only way to guarantee you'll never, ever go through a divorce, is to never get married.
Because Marriage Doesn’t Always Mean Happiness
Look, I know those Disney princess movies all filled our heads with this antiquated idea of true happiness and love and marriage and soulmates. That's bogus.
Yes, plenty of married people are damn happy, and plenty of unmarried people are also happy. There are also, however, lots of unhappy married people. So don’t think it’s a quick fix for either your relationship or your life, because it isn't.
Because Marriage Doesn’t Mean You’ll Never Be Lonely
You might think that living with and being with the same person for years at a time means you’re not lonely, but that’s not always the case. Many married people (and others in long-term relationships) tend to forget about wooing one another. They might also take one another for granted. It’s a lot of work to maintain that fresh feeling in a marriage. It’s possible, to be sure, but it’s work. If you think marriage means you’ll always be going out on dates, adjust your expectations.
Because Marriage Doesn't Save You From Getting Hurt
Some people get married because they think it’s the best way not to lose that person. It’s not. Plenty of married people cheat. Hell, plenty of married people cheat with other married people. There’s no way to stop someone from cheating, except by letting them go when they do, and that happens to married and unmarried couples in equal amounts.
Because Marriage Doesn't Save You From Any And All Stigma
If you choose to get married and end up divorced, even in 2017, you'll still deal with the social shame and stigma that comes along with a so-called "failed marriage." Then, of course, there's the judgments surrounding you marriage itself. What if you got married while you were pregnant, or after having a baby, or you didn't have a big wedding, or you didn't wear white? What if you didn't "do marriage the right way," whatever the hell that means?
Of course, there’s also the stigma of being unmarried and living together, and the other stigma of being an unwed parent (OK, let’s face it, it’s unwed mother because misogyny). Basically, stigma exists regardless of your life choices, and marriage can't shield you from it, unfortunately.
Because No One Can Define Your Relationship But You
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a label for your relationship and think “married” is the right fit, go for it. If you don’t feel like that’s necessary, that’s cool, too. But let’s stop making it seem like marriage is this amazing thing to aspire to. It’s not like getting a PhD. It’s not like climbing Mount Everest. It’s not like opening up a successful business. It’s just another way to define a relationship. Yes, being married for 50 or 60 years is certainly impressive, but so is simply being with someone you love, or being in love in general, for that long, too. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.